Statement of worth [Archives:2006/976/Viewpoint]

August 28 2006

The Yemeni government has taken a brave step when it approved the statement of worth decree. Not only do new sworn government officials have to explain their wealth and that of their relatives, this decree includes existing officials right from the president to all the ministers, governors, local council directors, heads of offices and all the way down the line.

That was the good news. The bad news is that almost no one whether in the government, opposition, or even individual citizens think this decree will ever be implemented. Apparently it is one of the many good ideas which remain only an idea.

Moreover, there are many authorities involved in implementing this decree. There is the general attorney, the judiciary and the legislative system in general, Central Organization for Control & Audit and of course the various ministries. With so many authorities involved and no clear mechanism, the responsibility will likely be passed between them all.

In fact, even the media has a role in this too, but with no available information to start with, we in the media would remain in the dark.

Today, with the election campaigns hogging the headlines in most papers, this significant decree could be lost without a trace. It is very important that this does not happen or else it would be a lost opportunity that could have given the system a giant leap in credibility and given the Yemeni people a reason to trust their governors once again.

Yemenis have become so used to the overnight wealth phenomenon, where an official starts off his career as a simple man, but in less than a year he or she is swimming in wealth. There are many new constructions going on around the cities, villas, and malls. Many expensive cars are on the streets. And the common man cannot but help but wonder where the wealth suddenly comes from – especially with the economic situation of the country deteriorating.

Implementing the statement of worth decree would bring back the trust of the people in the government and would help save the resources of the country and ensure that the Yemeni people's money is spent in the right places.